An Open Letter to the Residents of Buena Park

Illustration by Bob AulA couple of years ago, you tried to drive from your midst a fundamentalist Christian minister housing the homeless. Now some of you have a broader target for narrow minds: 900 million Hindus.

"I don't want them because they are closed off from our culture," resident Rose Glenn told the Register when asked about a plan to build a Hindu temple in Buena Park. "Why can't they assimilate into the rest of America?"

Some might ask the same of Buena Park, where the tallest building is a thrill ride. Who's going to notice a many-turreted temple in a town where tourists might mistake Medieval Times for City Hall? If it would make you feel better, ask your Hindu neighbors to put up a turnstile at the temple door and charge admission.

Hinduism is a religion with something to offer a city that lost its Alligator Farm and Japanese Deer Park years ago but still has Knott's Berry Farm, Movieland Wax Museum, Buffalo Bill's Wild West Dinner Extravaganza and Ripley's "Believe It or Not!" Museum. Hindus have Shiva—a six-armed god nicknamed the Destroyer—and Ganesh, a dancing god with an elephant's head. They've got so many gods they don't know what to do with them all (a subject admirably handled in A. Danielou's 1963 work, Hindu Polytheism), but if gods were hamburgers, Hinduism would have produced more than McDonald's.

Speaking of which, Buena Park also has something for Hindus: one McDonald's in the city offers a virtual-reality ride. Can you imagine—a place that kills cows with a thrill ride attached? Let them open their temple, and then watch the line outside McDonald's grow.

Speaking to the Reg, Buena Parkian Darlene Mundo told her Hindu neighbors to "go find another corner"—preferably a corner in "another city." She wondered aloud "what kind of sect this is." Here's what kind of sect it is: thousands of years older than Christianity—even Judaism—the roots of Hinduism go back to the Bronze Age people of the Indus Valley. The bottom line for the religion's adherents is what we in the West only joke about: karma and reincarnation. Do well in this life, and you advance to a better position in the next one. Screw up, and you find yourself a Hindu living next door to Darlene Mundo in Buena Park. If you live next door to Mundo for four consecutive lifetimes without baring your buttocks to her from a Chrysler minivan, you achieve moksha, or release—that's what Christians call heaven.

Meanwhile, Hindus have discovered a kind of heaven on Earth in something they call "tantra." Yes, Hindus will tell you that tantra is about expanded consciousness—"the dance of the elements in the vastness of space adorned by ornaments of physicality." Translation: Hindus have found a way to have an orgasm all the time. It never stops. You're sitting there at work in Buena Park, flipping burgers at Buffalo Bill's for hayseeds from Nebraska, and the good feelings just keep coming. You nearly black out on the fry grill. People in Buena Park might find the never-ending orgasm annoying, but word on the street says Irvine's Romance Committee is drafting a proposal to bring the Hindu temple to their City of Love, where the mayor is having a temporary unloving meltdown over accusations that she's been getting her tickets fixed and her daughter has a meth problem.

It's possible the real reason you want to beat up on Hindus could be reduced to two words: "Mohandas Gandhi." Am I right? You think you've found the redheaded kid on the playground, that Hindus won't fight back, that they'll line up to take a club in the head and say, "Thank you, sir" before they return quietly to their ashrams to weave cloth and make salt from seawater. You are mistaken. Gandhi is dead —murdered, in fact. These people will kick your ass. They've got the bomb. They've got a god dedicated to destruction. And did I mention the curry?

 
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